CNet News


I think I can state honestly that people who use the internet and search engines really love the search engine they use. It seems we either love them or we hate them… I use Google most of the time but check out others on a regular basis because I feel I need to be familiar with what’s out there.

What brought this up you might ask? Well, it was an article in the CNET News blog which discussed several of the major search engines and their never-ending race to be first! It seems that these: Google, Ask.com, Microsoft Live Search, and Yahoo have all made some major changes this year beginning with Google’s update in May. Ask.com followed in June and this week Microsoft has upgraded its Live Search. Chances are that Yahoo will be next.

So what does this mean for us? Well, for one thing, it means that any of the major search engines will quickly give us a great number of relevant results. It also means that we can now get images, videos, and other search types from any of these search engines.

I saw an ad on tv the other day for Ask.com and, of course, had to check it out. I liked it, you should check it out for yourself…but will I switch from Google? No, probably not…but I will certainly suggest it as an alternative search engine.

So, you have a storage device full of photos? Not another bit of space on your hard drive? What to do?

Well, the very first thing you need to do is decide exactly what you want to do with all those photos. Do you primarily want a place that you can send your photos and have them printed? A place that has lots of doodads you can order with photos on them? Or maybe you just want to share your photos with friends, family or the whole world? The last couple of years have seen an explosion in the number of these photo-sharing and photo-printing sites, which means that print prices have dropped, and the range of services offered has expanded. So, whether you have just a few vacation shots or you’re a “serious” photographer with a big image archive, there are plenty of sites that can make printing and sharing a pleasure.

We are going to talk about websites that are primarily photo-sharing services. Photo-sharing services should make it easy to upload and share your pictures with friends and family, or post them on the Internet for everyone to enjoy. The best online photo albums offer editing tools, lots of storage space, password protected access, and also the ability to buy and sell prints, photo gifts and other conveniences.

So when choosing a photo sharing site, you should look at these things:

  • Features The top–notch websites offer numerous practical features that help upload, post, share and print photographs, network with other photographers and browse photo galleries by keyword or date.
  • Ease of Use of the Service Like other Internet–based services, online photo albums should be user–friendly. Anyone should feel comfortable using the service and the tools it provides regardless of their knowledge of computers and the web.  
  • Help/Support First–class photo sharing websites provide adequate help and support in the form of tutorials and FAQs, and offer a number of ways, like email, web forms and a phone number to contact customer service.
  • Price – Free is good! Most of these sites offer an awful lot of features for free, all of them offer even more for a membership fee.

Flickr

Let’s start with Flickr since that is the one we use here at the library and is one with which I am familiar. When you have a free Flickr account, you have

  • 100 MB monthly upload limit (5MB per photo)
  • 3 sets
  • Photostream views limited to the 200 most recent images
  • Post any of your photos in up to 10 group pools
  • Only smaller (resized) images accessible (though the originals are saved in case you upgrade later).

Though it is possible to make and have some items printed out, this is not the place to go if printing and purchasing photo-related items is your prime purpose.

Of course, you get a lot more if you actually pay a membership fee. Let’s take a quick look at the library Flickr account.

Webshots

Webshots has been around for years and I have had a free account with them for quite a few of those years. I love Webshots because I can upload my photos to share with others, but can also easily download photos from other collections and use all of them in a screensaver. Some of the features with the free account are:

  • customize your own homepage
  • store and share 1000 photos + 100 more for each month of membership
  • upload on the go from your cellphone
  • receive a weekly email newsletter with all the daily photos of the week and leave messages in community photo albums.

This service also provides an uploading program that you can easily install on your computer that makes batch uploads convenient. While uploading photos, you can add captions and titles and perform some basic editing like cropping and rotating.

Webshots has a great collection of custom gifts like greeting cards, calendars, mugs and mouse pads. You can also order prints of your favorite photos, whether they’re your own, or from the gallery.

dotPhoto

Though I have not personally used DotPhoto, it has gotten great reviews. To begin, it has one of the most secure and user–friendly systems for storing and organizing your photos. Even the free account has unlimited storage space. You can use the free upload and photo management software dotPhoto provides or the online upload tools to add photographs. This system will also store videos and pictures from your camera phone. Then you can easily publish to MySpace, Xanga, Ebay, Live Journal or other websites.

This service offers a number of tools to edit and modify your photos. You can fix red eye, crop, rotate, brighten, zoom and more. There is even a tool to add a sound caption with each photo. You can use a number of photos and add sound to create a multimedia slide show. Through this service, you can also create your own webpage to display your photographs.

DotPhoto goes even further for those interested in selling their photos. DotPhoto provides everything you need and there is no start–up fee. You’ll have access to electronic payments and on–line sales reports. You set your price and dotPhoto will do the rest.

There is also an extensive catalog of photo-related items for purchase. All in all, this seems to be a great easy to use service with loads of free features.

Fotki

With the free account, Fotki has many useful features that are simple to use. There are a number of options to upload your photos and build your album. You can upload a group of pictures in a batch upload or individually upload a photo. You can also retrieve a picture from another website, use a file transfer protocol (FTP) client, email your picture or send it directly from a mobile device like a cell phone.

The site has an advanced properties screen where you can change specific settings dealing with copyright, photo view size, album icon, who posts or views comments and album description in full size. You also pick out a photo frame style, album layout, who can access originals, who can order prints of your photos, whether the camera model is shown, who can share your photos and more.

Fotki has great prices for prints, but does not offer the variety of items for sale that some of the other services have.

So there we have it, five of the most popular photo-sharing sites on the web! These are by no means all that are available, and you may well find another one from one of the websites below that you prefer!

When researching this topic, I found a number of reviews that I found helpful.

Photo Sharing Made Simple Family Circle Magazine website (2007)
Online Photo Albums Family Circle Magazine website (2007)
TopTenReviews.com Photo Sharing Websites (2007)
Online digital photo printing and sharing CNet.com
(review 10/06/2005)
All Things Web 2.0 Image, Photo and Imaging

Lisa Webb, one of our tech-savvy librarians, passed on this article to me “Steal this book? Don’t bother!” published on Cnet News. So of course, I am passing it on to you because it gives me a great opportunity to share some of the internet resources that we have! The article discusses the fact that most people don’t realize that their library offers much more than books. According to CNet, “Libraries are offering more free search services, database access, articles, photos, eBooks, audiobooks, music and museum passes than ever. Chances are you are buying, subscribing to, or stealing something you can get for free with a library card.”

Did you know that you can get many of these things right here at the West Palm Beach Public Library? Our audiobooks on CD are very popular, but did you realize that we also have downloadable audiobooks that you can put on an MP3 player? Have you ever gone to our “Librarytogo” section of our website where we have gathered hundreds of websites that contain quality information? Have you ever looked at the databases we subscribe to?

If you haven’t, then this is your opportunity, no, let’s say challenge, to go and check these wonderful resources out for yourself! If you any questions along the way, email me!.

Janice, The Tech Librarian